July 16th, 2001

After we organized some stuff in Calgary this morning, we head westward. To the Rockies it is only about an hour and so we leave the highway in Canmore and enter Banff National Park.

A gravel road takes us about 70 km into the Spray lake valley. At Mt. Shark we park the van and pack our stuff for a 3 day trip. It's 7pm and overcast when we finally get going. For the first 8 km a broad trail, which used to be a biathlon trial while the Olympic games, leads us into the valley.

Landscape here is dominated by clear streams and high ridges all around. At a creek we fill our water supplies and have a short break.

Shortly before dusk we set up our camp in a designated area, close to a river. The place is surrounded by high walls of rock and another 25 people stay with us tonight. Who wants to discover the well known national parks has to accept that there are others that have the same idea.

It's dark already by the time we prepare supper. Our food supplies are secured easily on one of the bear wires in the camp and shortly after we hit the sac. The next morning is going to be an early one.

July 17th, 2001

Around 6am we get up and have breakfast. Before the others awake we break our camp and hike on. Our aim is lake Magog which is located at the foot of 3600 m high Mt. Assiniboine.

We choose a longer route which brings us onto the slopes of a ridge. We enjoy the lookout and have our lunch break here.

Unfortunately the trail isn't marked very well and so we hike a little detour. When we get back to the right trail we walk along the slope and come higher an d higher. Og pass is our next land mark we are heading for, but before we enter the valley we look back.

We walk half around the mountain which raises in front of us until we reach the Og pass in a sudden hail storm. For a short time everything is whitened by the hail which thaws very quick again. He have another break for a hot soup and the sun is coming out.

The next storm is closing in and as we hike down the valley on the other side of the pass, a snow storm welcome us which is exchanged for some sunshine later on. We cross alpine meadows which are inhabited by lots of ground hogs, their warning whistle is always a step ahead of us.

As we arrive at the Mt. Assiniboine lodge it snows a bit harder once more and everything is covered underneath a white blanket.

We rest for some time and wait for the rain to stop. During that time a girl from the lodge offers us some cookies, because we missed the 5pm tea time. Finally we get going again and hike down to Lake Magog where we set up our tents.

The mood is down a bit, it's been 20 exhausting kilometers from the van. The shower from Simons water bag makes others in the camp smile while we freeze a lot but feel much better afterwards. After some vegetable with rice we fall into our sleeping bags (it still snows/rains, everything is still white). Around 9pm we hear a close by thunder, only that it doesn't stop for some time. The glacier on Mt. Assiniboine just lost some ice....

July 18th, 2001

As I get up the next morning raindrops still hit our tent. The sky is grey today whereas yesterday the sun was out for at least some time. We have breakfast then we pack the wet tents and head backwards to the van.

We choose Wonder pass, which brings us to Marvel lake. A snowstorm dips the landscape into white, after the pass steep gravel slopes lead us down to Marvel lake, which sticks out from the fog covered woods by its intense greenish blue colour. As we get back to the trail which we came into the valley on we have another lunch break in a shelter and get warmed up again.

The remaining way back to the van stretches a chewing gum. After about 28 km we are happy to be here and drive to a camping site close to the highway. The evening we spend  with some delicious food, some beers and guitar music at the camp fire. Here sun shine again and temperatures are back to some comfortable 15-1 C.

July 19th, 2001

In the morning Bine and Simon drive back to Calgary to get some (waterproof) hiking boots for Bine. In the meantime Daniel and I enjoy life, having breakfast for two hours (scrambled eggs with bacon and green pepper, Nutella buns etc.) and go for a stroll through a river bed, past a beaver lodge. Around 12:30am we are back and shortly after Simon and Bine come back as well.

Together we drive to Lake Louise, THE tourist attraction of the area. If there weren't that many people I would like lake Louise, but so we rather hike up to the tea house at lake Agnes for some relaxed coffee break.

In the afternoon we follow the highway to Yoho national park, where we have a look for the spiral tunnels of the railroad and then find a place (and fees) to share with some other Germans on the fully booked Kicking Horse campground.

Later that evening - which means around 5pm as the place is sun-safe by the high rock walls all around - we have burger and white wine.

July 20th, 2001

Early this morning we get up and break our camp.

We follow the Yoho Valley Road, which leads into the valley of the same name. We park the van at the impressing Takakkaw Falls and walk a bit back to the Whisky Jack trailhead (~ 1700 m) in order to hike the Iceline trail.

From here the path climbs steep up onto 2100 m to then traverse the slope between tree- and ice line. Two sorts of plants meet the eye of hikers here. Their names describe the way they look. The first is the "Indian Paintbrush", the second the "Hippie-on-a-stick".

We follow the trail across widespread slopes of rubble an enjoy the lookout to the Takakkaw Falls

Then we leave the trail and climb towards the ice.

The obviously small terraces of rock which the picture shows right below the ice are 4 huge, each 10 m high walls. Bine and I go for some climbing and are rewarded by the sight of a huge ice cover of the Emerald glacier.

Back on the trail again we have our lunch break and then hike down into the valley.

Passing the Laughing Falls we reach our van after 17.2 km.

On our way back to the highway we can observe a bus conquering the narrow switchbacks. A sign gives a hint: first drive up to the first curve, then drive up to the next one backwards, then go on.

Back to Lake Louise we enter highway 93 (Icefield Highway) northbound. In drizzling rain we arrive in Jasper where we set up our tents on an overfilled campground. Despite the bad weather our mood is fine, a hot shower refreshes and warms us up in addition to the beers.

 

 

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